Promontory plan to build 7 workforce housing units seen as progress in longstanding debate
Nearly 20 years after the development agreement for the Promontory Club was signed, the gated community is positioned to move forward on seven employee housing units, which would join the two adjacent units already built to bring the total on site to nine.
It’s seen as a major step forward in a sometimes-contentious debate regarding workforce housing in the second-home luxury neighborhood on the east side of the Snyderville Basin.
Around 700 homes have been built there since the development agreement was signed in 2001. Promontory is required to provide 37 employee households consisting of 82 bedrooms, according to a Summit County staff report, and two have been built to date. Robin Milne, general manager of Promontory Club, has estimated Promontory employs about 310 people when fully staffed and about 180 in slower times.
On May 21, the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission forwarded a positive recommendation on the plan to build seven 450-square-foot studio apartments in a new 3,200-square-foot building near the community’s gates.
The units would be offered first to Promontory employees, who might move in as soon as next April, Milne said.
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“Promontory is the only developer who has built employee housing units in Eastern Summit County as there is no code requirement,” Milne wrote in an email to The Park Record. “With these seven additional units we continue with the employee housing plan we adopted in 2001. These units are adjacent to the existing employee housing apartments in our Equestrian Center and were designed as an architectural extension of that community. The seven rental units will be a convenient housing option for Promontory employees.”
After this project, the development would have a remaining employee housing requirement of 73 bedrooms. Eastern Summit County Planning Commissioner Tom Clyde called it a good start.
“This is a huge step in meeting a very modest employee housing requirement,” Clyde wrote in an email to The Park Record.
The rental apartments are set up as one-bedrooms, Clyde said, though their size classifies them as studios. There are laundry machines in each unit and Clyde said it appears the apartments would comfortably accommodate one or two people.
Promontory and Summit County have gone back and forth over the affordable housing component of the development for years. The development agreement requires the employee housing be produced “within a reasonable time,” and in 2018, the county decided that time had come, according to the staff report.
“The commission has been pressing for the housing projects to begin for a long time, and once we quit acting on their applications, it forced the issue,” Clyde wrote. “The commission felt like it was long overdue.”
Last year, during a Promontory request to build 22,000-square-foot homes within the gated community, county councilors suggested that renegotiating the development agreement for that project might lead the county to impose modern affordable housing requirements, with Councilor Glenn Wright estimating that could yield 250 additional affordable housing units. Promontory ultimately withdrew the request.
“I just think you need to pull your weight when it comes to affordable housing,” Wright said at the time. “You’ve created enormous burden in the county and, because you have a 20-year-old agreement, you’re not pulling your weight.”
Developer Francis Najafi has touted the revenues the development has brought to the county in both taxes and philanthropy.
That includes what he said to be $160 million in property tax revenue over 20 years, $155 million in construction that supports small businesses, $4.1 million to local nonprofits in the last 15 years and $1 million for a new fire station, an ambulance and the land it sits on.
Summit County as a whole has a deficit of hundreds of affordable or workforce housing units, according to a recent housing study. Officials have said around 70% of the county’s workforce commutes into the county for work, and that high housing costs have been an impediment to local business.
The Snyderville Basin Development Code requires new developments to develop affordable housing units equal to 20% of the approved density. If a 100-unit apartment building were approved at Kimball Junction, for example, the developer would be required to develop or ensure the development of 20 affordable unit equivalents.
Many recent developments in the Basin have exceeded that percentage.
There is no such requirement in the Eastern Summit County Development Code, and Promontory is governed by a negotiated development agreement that was signed in 2001 and has been amended several times in the intervening years.
The development is entitled for 1,901 units, including 300 resort cabins. According to the staff report, around 1,200 of those units have been platted.
Clyde said some neighbors were concerned about the building’s appearance and that it would detract from the nearby equestrian center, but that the commission felt the project fit.
“At 3,200 square feet, there are literally living rooms in Promontory larger than this 7 unit apartment building,” Clyde wrote. “It’s about as innocuous as it could be.”
Editor’s note: Tom Clyde writes a weekly column for The Park Record.
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